By Michael H. Brown
Not too many if any obituaries on the great nun and Catholic media pioneer, Mother Angelica, of Hanceville, Alabama, mention the critical, indeed pivotal, role that the supernatural played in her life, her mission.
Indeed, Mother Angelica was a mystic.
The very idea to build a monastery in the South had been presented to her in a revelation, and she recounted miraculous events in her early years, including a levitation: lifted beyond the reach of a bus that would have killed her at a bus stop (if I recall accurately). Growing up as she did in Canton, Ohio, she was very close to a home-bound mystic-stigmatic there named Rhoda Wise. She had an early and lifelong, intense interest in this realm (she was a big early promoter of Medjugorje and Maria Esperanza and herself suffered mysterious illnesses and in her younger years a possibly miraculous healing).
Back in 1994, her chief assistant in founding the television network, EWTN, Bill Steltemeier, told me of a time he and Mother Angelica were trying to find their way to Mount Gargano (the cave of Saint Michael) and an angel in the form of a handsome bright-eyed young man -- who seemed to simply step out of a quickly moving car ahead of them -- came up to their auto and directed them, and then vanished. She had apparitions of the Infant Jesus.
No doubt, there were other such accounts.
On a ride together from Irondale to Hanceville, back in 2000, before she took ill, Mother Angelica pointed out a large hill with an EWTN antenna at the top; she had it put there, she told me, because she saw a huge angel there. She was directed to what she did. Many don't know of such occurrences, because they are not something mainstream Catholic media discuss, including, now, her network (but for historic saints, from what I understand).
My remembrances are few but unforgettable. She was very warm and down to earth and we spent hours together, privately, one-on-one, discussing matters -- mainly mysticism. Those conversations came during visits for three appearances on her show (one about a year after The Final Hour became a bestseller, another for the book Trumpet of Gabriel, when it came out, and then for Sent To Earth, her favorite; she promoted it over the course of three weeks (and during the single hour we did the show on it, her monastery sold more than 8,000 copies in phone orders). I also spoke to her while doing a show there with another host, Johnnette Benkovic (great woman); Mother was keen to watch a discussion we were having that pertained to an apparition site in Spain.
So connected was Mother Angelica with this alleged site that she told me she had plans for her network to immediately fly there and broadcast in the event of a prophesied Great Miracle (though she injured herself a bit during a fall while visiting the mountain there).
Again, these are things many don't know. The situation, perhaps, is now a bit more restrained. But it is the truth. She told me of meetings with seers (she declined a request to be spiritual adviser to a major alleged American one), and before her final ailment -- before falling, due to a stroke -- felt she had been healed by a visiting visionary from Italy.
We disagreed on certain mystics, or at least aspects of them (including that Italian one). It may surprise many, at her network, to know that while my views may be a bit daring, they do not go as far as did hers. In private, at least with me, Mother Angelica was unrestrained and unwavering in her belief that the world was on the brink, as prophesied, the cusp, of cataclysmic events. She told me she had a large tank or swimming pool of reserve drinking water for her monastery, as well as other supplies. In this way, she was a "prepper." When, the morning after she took me down to Hanceville (where I stayed with the great monks and priests there), I was brought to meet all of her cloistered nuns in the convent (they remained behind a grate; very nice bright and exquisitely disciplined souls), Mother joked about coming events and gave me a little key-chain flashlight for when things got dark.
Ironically -- perhaps preternaturally, at least: poignantly -- the lights went out right then: workmen at the shrine had cut a cable.
We all laughed, yet we all somehow took stock of it.
Mother Angelica was a keen observer of the "signs of the times." She even stayed once at the home of a friend whose ministry in Virginia bore that phraseology.
Her major role was not at EWTN; it was in that monastery. I have no doubt that her mission -- actually missions, plural, for she initiated a number of major projects that remain a force; amazing accomplishments -- were the fruit of supernatural prayerful intervention and that the rapid growth of her television-radio-news network after she took ill in 2001 were because of her prayers and offering up of suffering -- years of it! -- for exactly those subsequent accomplishments.
You read of her media mission spreading as a result of this and that, but at the root, the main cause, was her prayer; at the root was her offering; at the root was mysticism, not administration.
Just before she took ill, we were in communication with each other, almost daily, via e-mail. After I appeared on her show for Sent To Earth, Mother became a daily viewer of Spirit Daily, and frequently sent messages and opinions and suggestions through an assisting nun.
EWTN was getting big. They were being prudent. They were being careful.
But one to one?
No doubt where she stood.
A great woman -- and even, if we were with each other just a few times, a friend, for eternity.
Once she took ill, I lost touch with her. Occasionally we'd hear from a sister or someone at the network or monastery. I hope they keep her connection with the supernatural.
Although, in truth, I haven't viewed the network since moving twelve years ago to a town in Florida where it wasn't available (will check to see if it is now), I daily surf one of their news sites.
I hope they keep her faith. No doubt they will.
I hope they keep her touch.
That might mean as much as or more to her than a funeral.
[resources: Sent To Earth]
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